It is true that a trip can change you forever. Either because your consciousness changes temporarily or because different cultures and traditions open your mind to new dimensions. And within Peru, you will have gigantic opportunities to appreciate and enjoy a great variety of tourist destinations and other cultures. But this is not all that the Andean country has to offer. If you are an explorer not only of the world but of the mind, you can feel lucky to travel to Peru. In recent years it has become incredibly popular to travel to spiritual retreats in the middle of the Amazon. Retreats with Ayahuasca ceremonies are one of the many activities that many travelers seek to enjoy. Therefore, together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru, we would like to tell you a little about the Ayahuasca in Peru.
Previously, Ayahuasca in Peru was limited to its traditional use by the native people. This mystical infusion has been used as traditional medicine by different indigenous tribes for thousands of years. This psychoactive has become very popular with tourists who have flocked to various retreat centers. Many of these centers are located in jungle areas of Peru and are run by renowned shamans. This medicine is said to be highly beneficial for self-discovery, addiction problems, anger management, and even problems like cancer.
Everything you need to know about Ayahuasca in Peru
- What is Ayahuasca?
- How Ayahuasca is prepared?
- Effects of the Ayahuasca
- About the ceremonies
- What to expect from the ceremony?
- Where to experience Ayahuasca in Peru?
- The price of the experience
WHAT IS AYAHUASCA?
So, can you do Ayahuasca in Peru? Yes, you can. First of all, it is a good idea to eliminate any misconceptions you have about Ayahuasca. Despite the tabloid media and other news, Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug. It is not something to get high and enjoy the moment or a magic pill that will solve your problems. For the indigenous people of the Amazon, Ayahuasca is more than a simple plant, it is a spirit, a sacred and ancestral ritual for healing.
And what exactly is Ayahuasca? It is an infusion made by shamans of the Amazon jungle. It serves to enter altered states of consciousness and obtain new perspectives on life. Historically, it is known that many visited shamans to heal themselves from physical, mental, or emotional ailments. In general, those who drank from the infusion did so in order to receive guidance from the “spirit” that inhabits the plant. Today, the tradition remains strongly rooted in Ayahuasca ceremonies. And during the last decades, shamans began to serve the infusion to different patients under their supervision.
Ayahuasca is a jungle vine that grows in the middle of the jungle. It is commonly found in the territories of Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and the Guyanas. The plant is quite revered by the indigenous tribes as well as the shamans of the Andean regions. It is considered a “Master Plant”. The term Ayahuasca derives from the ancient Quechua language. The Quechua words “Aya” translates to the dead, while “Huasca” translates to vine or rope. That is to say, the “Rope of the Dead” or the “Vine of the Dead”. The concoction has been used for more than 5000 years for both individual and collective healing. If you are looking to visit Machu Picchu, you can enjoy one of these ceremonies.
HOW AYAHUASCA IS PREPARED?
Despite common belief, preparing Ayahuasca in Peru is quite difficult. Most of those who try it do not have the desired effects or even have bad experiences accompanied by indigestion. Therefore, if you are looking to try the real thing, you have to travel to the Amazon basin and do it with a renowned Shaman. Ayahuasca is made by shamans using the Ayahuasca vine and the Chacruno leaves. Both can be obtained naturally in the middle of the Amazon basin. The Ayahuasca vine naturally contains natural chemical compounds that resemble DMT. While the Chacruno leaves allow its metabolization within the body.
According to tradition, these two plants must be collected on a full moon or in the morning. In addition, whoever picks it up must be fasting. It takes about ten kilos of Ayahuasca to prepare the infusion. For this, the Ayahuasca vine is crushed to make them easier to cook. Then a kilo of Chacruna is added. Depending on the shaman, the concoction can include tobacco and coca leaves.
Note that the preparation is boiled for 12 hours in about 50 liters of water. And while it is being prepared, it is accompanied by shamanic chants known in the Amazon as Icaros. It is also accompanied by tobacco puffs while asking for specific intentions. Both the songs and the intentions are invocations to the spirit of Ayahuasca. The 50 liters of the initial preparation is reduced to only 2 liters of Ayahuasca. The end result is a liquid with a viscous texture and a reddish-ocher color. This is one of the many ways to prepare, but everything will depend on the Shaman and his traditional methods.
EFFECTS OF THE AYAHUASCA
The effects of this medicinal infusion can vary greatly depending on the patient, the set and setting, and the dosage. But of one thing you can be sure, the effects produce a before and after in most users. Whether you get deep spiritual insights, insight into your relationships, or a connection to nature, the universe, and your own psyche. Many believe that it helps you reach states of enlightenment, where you approach new understandings of either the sentimental or material dimension of your life. But you shouldn’t get carried away either, as there can also be bad experiences.
The sessions are usually accompanied by intense hallucinations and an altered perception of reality. Time and space seem to alter and you will see your emotions become much more intense in the process. The effects of the infusion can last between 4 to 8 hours, but this will depend a lot on the dosage and preparation of the medicine. Furthermore, contrary to common belief, undertaking this experience requires a great deal of preparation. It is true that not all the available ceremonies offer the necessary guidance and preparation, but if you can do it, it is recommended that you do so.
If you’ve never had experience with psychedelics, your brain may be very impressionable. It is important that you realize that you are under the influence of a psychoactive whose effects will wear off with time. Do not get carried away by fears and emotions to guarantee a good experience. Furthermore, Ayahuasca affects not only your mind but your body as well. Some people may feel lightheaded or generally unwell. But it is not something that lasts forever. Being able to explore Peru can be a great opportunity to explore your psyche
ABOUT THE CEREMONIES
What is the Ayahuasca ceremony? It is a ceremony with strong cultural roots within the original tribes of the Amazon. This is done in a group of 5 to 20 people although this can vary. Within a traditional Ayahuasca ceremony, you will have the opportunity to receive treatment for your soul and let it participate in its own healing. Participants usually arrive early in the evening, as these usually take place at night. Participants arrive before the ceremony begins to show respect for the healer, or healers, who lead the ceremony. The master of the ceremony or Shaman usually prepares the site for the ceremony first. This consists of cleaning the space with Mapacho tobacco puffs, prayers, songs, and blessings. After the initial preparations, presentations can take place. If you are planning a trip to Peru, it is a good idea to find out about the different retreats available.
THE BEGINNING OF THE CEREMONY
The start of the ceremony begins in silence, although this may depend on the Shaman. Some choose to sing and bring a welcoming atmosphere to the participants. Keep in mind that any song is not allowed, if not medicine songs or Icaros from the Amazon jungle. The healer may choose to speak with each participant about the intention he seeks to cultivate, the dosage, or other recommendations for a pleasant experience. He then calls each participant to have a cup of Ayahuasca. The healer also drinks a cup after each participant has received a cup of Ayahuasca. The ceremony takes place with the lights off and when the medicine begins to take effect, that is when the healer begins to sing. The songs take place throughout the ceremony and are loaded with an intention. The songs can be accompanied by drums and other instruments.
The beginning of a ceremony can be an unsettling time. As each participant’s consciousness expands, symptoms of dizziness and malaise may appear. Physical purging or vomiting is usually more frequent during the start of the ceremony. The purge is considered a cleansing process where the experience is a metaphysical equivalent where you expel all those trapped feelings and traumas.
MUSIC AS A TOOL OF HEALING
Medicine songs are one of the most important parts of the Ayahuasca ceremonies. In the experience, the Shamans sing healing songs called “Icaros.” These songs help the healers to communicate with the spirits and to ask for help in the healing treatments of the patients. Each Icarus has a specific purpose in the ceremony process. The healers sing to invite the spirits to be present and perform the necessary cures. The healer can sing throughout the ceremony as patients navigate their own visions and experiences. Shamans also use the Icaros to mark the pace and rhythm of the ceremony. Either to raise or lower the intensity. This is most often seen with drum beats that can go faster or slower depending on the timing.
ALTERNATIVE HEALING TOOLS
The Medicine Man or Shaman often participates in individual cures for patients. Where this will focus on someone in the group to sing a specific Icaro. During ceremonies, the most common style of guidance and healing is singing an Icaro. Some people claim to experience pain during this time. Shamans, in addition to chanting to heal, can remove negative energy by blowing smoke or spraying scented liquid such as rose water. The healers have several tools and these can range from the breath, their hands, tobacco, flowery water, and other tools that are deemed necessary. For healers, it is the plant spirits who guide the flow of energies and personal experiences within the group. It does not matter if you are on solo travel in Peru, the ceremonies are carried out in groups. So it will be an excellent opportunity to meet people.
Ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru usually include the use of special tobacco known as “Mapacho”. Shamans are those who smoke directly with their breath, or “Soplay” as they call it. This puff of smoke serves to cleanse the spirit and body of the patient. The Mapacho is also used to clean the ceremony space, the cup where the medicine will be drunk, and the infusion itself. The Mapacho and the smoke of this tobacco are considered a great healer that helps in the communication of other plant spirits.
CLOSING OF THE CEREMONY
The ceremony usually ends with an Icarus that helps close the healing circle. The healer provides patients with protection against any kind of spiritual vulnerability before leaving. After the end of the ceremony, the lights are turned on and a small talk is given. The shaman is free to add a few words for each of the patients or a general talk. Then the lights go on and people are free to go to rest. The ceremonies can last until dawn, due to the duration of the effects of Ayahuasca. It is one of the strongest and most powerful healing experiences that Peru offers. If you are looking for something that changes your perspective forever, this is a good opportunity.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE CEREMONY?
For some people, the healer remains a guide who facilitates a comfortable experience. But it is the spirit of the plant that is considered as a teacher or therapist who comes to teach the participant. This spirit could be thought of as an independent entity that transforms the person who welcomes it into it while giving them access to a holistic and dreamlike vision of the world. While for other people, the spirit of the plant could be considered as a guide. But the spirit will function as an internal and intrinsic guide to the individual. This could be considered as an experience of oneself with oneself where the individual himself is the agent of his healing.
So in general, what you can expect from Ayahuasca is an alteration and amplification of your state of consciousness. The Ayahuasca experience can result in an extraordinary encounter with the “I”. As well as the identification of a true “I” previously unrecognized and apparently rediscovered. During the experience, there is no dissolution or loss of consciousness. On the contrary, only one modification of it occurs. The subject is aware throughout the session of who he is, where he is, and what he has taken. By calling the participants by their names, they respond, but this can lead them away from their main visions.
WHERE TO EXPERIENCE AYAHUASCA IN PERU?
Which Ayahuasca retreat is the best? This is one of the most frequently asked questions among different tourists and foreigners. We believe that in the Peruvian Amazon you will find the best spiritual retreats. But you don’t necessarily have to do it within the Amazon basin. There are places to enjoy ceremonies from Lima to Machu Picchu itself. Although if you are looking for a true and original experience, the best ceremonies will be found in the jungles of Peru. Whether in Cusco, Iquitos, or Puerto Maldonado, you will have wonderful opportunities to enjoy a unique ceremony. Keep in mind that it is important to do it with a certified shaman or with some renowned or prestigious healer. Since there are many people who transform these ceremonies into an exploitative business.
Also within the different lodges that specialize in services within the jungle can offer these ceremonies. Some of these ceremonies can be enjoyed going deep into the jungle. But as with any experience you’re looking to enjoy, do a little research before embarking on it. You can book it along with your tickets to the Inca citadel and enjoy the mysteries of Machu Picchu. The possibilities are many, so it is better to enjoy it with a prestigious agency or company.
THE PRICE OF THE EXPERIENCE
If you are looking to enjoy a good official Ayahuasca retreat in Peru that is well organized, do not expect to pay little. It is important to compare and contrast the prices of the organized retreats. Many of the organized retreats not only include the Ayahuasca ceremony, but also endless activities. From Yoga classes, workshops with sounds, excursions to the surroundings, and much more. Some even have roundtrip transportation and all meals included.
It is good to keep in mind that during these experiences it is very important to be content and comfortable. So don’t be afraid to spend a little extra to ensure a safe experience. So, How much does it cost to do Ayahuasca in Peru? You can expect a budget in the $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 range. But this will depend on the retreat you are going to and the activities it includes. The ceremony could be considered one of the best tours in Peru after Machu Picchu.
“THE SCARIEST PART OF AYAHUASCA, THE THING THAT SCARES US THE MOST, IS THAT WE MIGHT SEE OURSELVES.”
We hope together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru to have been helpful. As you can see, Ayahuasca retreats in Peru are quite an experience. You can choose to include this activity in your itinerary, but it is good to do some research beforehand. There are numerous possibilities for retreats and ceremonies within the jungle of Peru as in other regions. If you don’t feel ready to embark on this unparalleled adventure, we recommend that you do so when you feel ready. It is important that you feel prepared and thus enjoy one of the most unique activities in Peru.